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February 25, 2011

“Artsakh: From Kingdom to Republic”

Yerevan—In the framework of the “Civil Assembly of the Armenian Agenda” initiative, a roundtable discussion was convened today at the National Citizens’ Initiative (NCI) headquarters. The seminar, with the theme “Artsakh: from Kingdom to Republic,” was devoted to the historical foundations of Karabagh’s (Artsakh) statehood and the international legal grounds for the declaration of the Mountainous Karabagh Republic (MKR).

Welcoming the audience with opening remarks, NCI coordinator Hovsep Khurshudian noted that the genocide, which had started on 28 February 1988 in the Azerbaijani town of Sumgait and continued in that country for the next two years, had demonstrated yet again the unquestionable truth that, under the hegemony of official Baku, the safety of the Armenians of Azerbaijan, including those Armenians who constitute the majority of the population of the former Nagorno Karabagh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO), cannot be guaranteed by any means.

With his report entitled “The Formation and Development of Statehood in Artsakh: From Kingdom to Republic,” the day’s first speaker, political scientist Stepan Hasan-Jalalian, stated that, still as part of the ancient united Armenian kingdom, Artsakh had enjoyed certain independent statehood whose structure, however, had changed in the following centuries and in line with the changing conditions. But according to Hasan-Jalalian, the daily life on that soil was organized and regulated by the national authorities at all times. “The Artsakh republic, which has formed in our times, is the objective result of the historical and long-term process of the formation and development of statehood in this territory. A statehood that is based on centuries-old traditions and developed jurisprudence and is the main assurance for the liveliness and development of Artsakh Armenians,” Hasan-Jalalian maintained. His report was accompanied with the screening of excerpts from the film “Vachagan Barepasht (the Pious): Artsakh’s First King,” whose co-creator is Stepan Hasan-Jalalian.

In his intervention under the heading “The Impact of the UN International Court’s Consultative Conclusion on the Legality of Kosovo’s Declaration of Independence: What the Court’s Conclusion Suggests from the Standpoint of the Settlement of the Key Issue of Artsakh,” attorney Levon Gevorgian presented the most recent international legal developments with respect to the concept of the peoples’ right for self-determination and the prospects against the backdrop of the Artsakh question. Gevorgian detailed the peculiarities of the newly developing theory of “secession, as a means of legal defense” and its link to the classic right of self-determination. The speaker invited a particular attention to the UN International Court of Justice’s consultative ruling “on Kosovo independence declaration’s correspondence with the international law” and its legal merit. Gevorgian also looked into the international legal matters concerning the recognition of new state formations, and the legality of recognition and its possible outcomes.

With a policy assessment on the topic “A Critical Analysis of the Primary Functioning Concepts in the Settlement of the Key Issue of Artsakh,” the next speaker, international law specialist Andreas Ghukasian, spoke about the theses according to which MKR’s declaration is in conformity with the legislation of the former USSR and the criteria for independent statehood. Ghukasian also presented the political and legal concepts existing in Azerbaijan as to the formation of MKR, specifically in terms of “aggression” and “occupation” by Armenia. The speaker underscored the principles of the concept which the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has adopted in connection with the resolution of the Mountainous Karabagh conflict; the respect of human rights; the disregard for the exclusion of using, and threatening to use, force to resolve the conflict; and the “Madrid Principles’” destructive potential toward the settlement of the conflict. In conclusion, Ghukasian shared his vision for an alternative resolution.

The remainder of the session was dedicated to an interesting exchange of views and recommendations among those in attendance. Noteworthy were interventions by Tigran Pashabezian of the “Ukht Ararati” initiative; secretary Larisa Alaverdian of the Heritage Party’s faction in parliament; eastern studies specialist Areg Bayandur; sociologist Syuzanna Barseghian; political scientist Arman Sahakian; and several others.

At the end of the roundtable, the participants received the DVDs which feature “Artsakh’s First King: Vachagan Barepasht” and another film by Stepan Hasan-Jalalian entitled “Hasan-Jalal-Dola: The Ruler of the Rulers of Artsakh-Khachen.”

For further information on the National Citizensí Initiative, please call (37410) 27-16-00 or 27-00-03; fax (37410) 52-48-46; email


  • Armenian version of the press release

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